Being a perfectionist can stop you even starting a project for fear of messing up. Angie Wilson explains how to learn to love your mistakes
Angie Wilson urges us to embrace our mistakes and take some risks with our quilt making!
You know when you’re in a job interview and the interviewer asks that stock standard question, “Can you tell us about one of your weaknesses?” and we all cringe and think of something that we can talk about that looks like a weakness but is actually a trait that will mean you’ll be awesome in that role? When I used to sit on interviewing panels I could almost guarantee that two-thirds of applicants would say, “I’m a perfectionist,” as their answer to that question and then sit there smugly like the cat that got the cream. On the surface that answer looks great. You could read into it that they’ll do a topnotch job with no mistakes
– but the reality of being a perfectionist is much more destructive. They can get caught up in achieving the perfect and spiral out of control into not delivering and being unhappy in their job. The same goes for creative perfectionists.
Now here’s where I unmask my own weakness – I’m a creative perfectionist. Unlike those interview candidates this little confession makes me cringe and hang my head in shame. It’s nothing to be proud of – in fact it’s one of the biggest saps to my sewjo. I spend hours staring at a project trying to find the ‘right’ fabric to use because I’m so paranoid that I’ll cut into my fabric, make a mistake and I won’t be able to find any more. I am paralysed with indecision because it has to be perfect. What’s the point in spending all that time making something if it’s not right?
Even worse now is the pressure that comes with knowing I’ll be sharing the majority of my work with my community via my blog, social media, books and teaching. I don’t want someone to judge me because I picked the wrong fabric, cut off a point, did the technique wrong – you name it, the list of ways I can make a mistake and be judged for it are endless. But here’s the thing – I’ve learned something important this year: the benefits of making mistakes far outweigh getting something ‘perfect’.
Making those mistakes is what helps me get better at my craft and at the end of the day that means more to me then the opinion of anyone else who might judge me for trying. The other bonus of making stuff where I accept that I will make mistakes and I just need to do the best I can at the time is that things get done. I’m super productive when I give myself permission to make mistakes. It really is true – done is better than perfect. Know why? Because done means you can move on to the next thing (and buy more fabric!) and the next thing brings with it new challenges, new opportunities and new ways for you to learn and grow.
If you’re like me and getting hung up on being perfect then I’m giving you permission to be imperfect. Embrace the mantra ‘done is better than perfect’ and get out there and start making!
As Miles Davis famously said: “Do not fear mistakes – there are none.”